Reading research and the un common core a blueprint for teaching and teacher education
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Reading Research and the UN-Common Core: A Blueprint for Teaching and Teacher Education?. P. David Pearson University of California, Berkeley. Link to slides will be posted at Goals for Today.

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Reading Research and the UN-Common Core: A Blueprint for Teaching and Teacher Education?

P. David Pearson

University of California, Berkeley

Link to slides will be posted at

Goals for Today

  • Remind ourselves of what the Standards are designed to do.

  • Examine their potential

    • New possibilities: The high road on curriculum, text, and cognitive challenge

    • Explore their dark side: Beware the pot holes, sink holes, and black holes

  • Discuss some defensible positions to take on curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher education as we move into the all important implementation phase

Link to slides will be posted at

What I could, but will NOT talk about…

  • Assessment: Lots to say

    • déjà vu all over again

  • Scope and Sequence of Standards

    • What could and should change over time

    • What should remain the same


  • Elementary?

  • Secondary?

  • College?

  • What’s the difference

Elementary Teachers Love

  • Their kids

Secondary Teachers Love

  • Their subjects

College Teachers Love

  • Themselves

A Confession:My Relationship with the Standards Movements

  • Member of the Validation Committee of the CCSS

  • Background work on text complexity with a grant from Gates Foundation

  • Long (and occasionally checkered) history with standards going back to

    • NBPTS: Standards for Teacher Certification

    • IRA/NCTE Standards for English Language Arts

  • Research and development work on assessment, especially the sorts of assessments that are privileged by deeper learning

What sold me on the standards, both CCSS and TEKS/CCRS

What the CCSS said about reading

  • Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive, reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens world views. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 3)

Or from the CCRS…

  • Academic and business leaders emphasize the importance of being able to apply these skills across a variety of contexts and subject matter. They describe 21st century learning and work environments in which the cross-disciplinary skills are prerequisites to solving many of the most important problems students will encounter in college and the workplace. These problems increasingly require applying knowledge across disciplines and subject areas and the mastery of a base set of communication and analysis skills that span subject areas. Students, then, not only need to possess content knowledge, but also need to be able to apply key cognitive skills to the academic tasks presented to them, most of which require much more than simple recall of factual knowledge. These cross-disciplinary standards enable students to engage in deeper levels of thinking across a wide range of subjects.

So what’s not to Like?

  • Nothing

  • Everything I believe in about literacy learning

What they said about teacher choice: From the CCSS…

  • By emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning. Teachers are thus free to provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards. (CCSSO/NGA, 2010, p. 4).

What you said in the CCRS…

  • In delineating the knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness, the CCRS do not specify the performance levels necessary to demonstrate competence. Without examples of course syllabi, assignments, and student work to illustrate when or how a standard is met, some standards could conceivably be interpreted to be at a level that would challenge graduate students. …

  • Examples of course material that illustrate the necessary performance level for each standard will be made available as the CCRS are implemented.

Just the right balance

  • Let the body politic at every level have a voice in the big overarching goals

  • At every level along the way, from the state to the district to the school to the classroom, leave a little room for each player to place his or her “signature” on the effort…

  • Identity, buy-in, the right kind of political negotiation among levels within the system…

Another Reason to Support the Standards: The Text Complexity Gap…

Why text complexity? The gap for college and career readiness

Jack Stenner’s (lexile guy) depiction of the 200 lexile gap

Candidate approaches

  • Up the ante on text complexity and tell folks (students and teachers) to try harder

  • Up the ante and RAMP UP the scaffolding and instruction needed to cope with the additional challenge

  • Engineer the increase within a web-delivered program…

  • We’ll talk about these later…

Another reason to support standards…

  • Hobson’s Choice…

  • Which is worse?

  • A single orthodoxy adhered to across the political entity?

  • OR

  • 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 local orthodoxies?


  • In 2010, I signed on the dotted line to say the CCSS standards are worthy of our professional support and implementation

  • Ready to go on the road and seek converts.

  • But the road to paradise has been a little rocky…

  • By the way, no one has asked me to go on the road to sell the CCRS in Texas

  • Until today…

Today’s Agenda

  • Focus on a few important questions about standards…

    • What do they tell us about the level of challenge we need to provide in the texts students read?

      • Responsibility of readers and teachers…

    • What do they tell us about how students should be reading and understanding text?

      • Responsibility of readers and teachers…

    • What do they tell us about relationships of literacy to disciplinary learning—

      • what we are beginning to think of as disciplinary literacy?

  • Is there anything Texas can or should learn from the CCSS

  • Is there anything that the CCSS can or should learn from Texas?

Comprehension:How we got to where we are…

  • The historical pathway to Kintsch’s Construction Integration Model and the RAND report




Reading Comprehension


Most models of reading have tried to explain how reader factors, text factors and context factors interact when readers make meaning.

Bottom up and New Criticism: Text-centric



Reading Comprehension


The bottom up cognitive models of the 60s were very text centric, as was the “new criticism” model of literature from the 40s and 50s (I.A. Richards)

Pedagogy for Bottom up and New Criticism: Text-centric

  • Since the meaning is in the text, we need to go dig it out…

  • Leads to Questions that

    • Interrogate the facts of the text

    • Get to the “right” interpretation

  • Writerly readings or textual readings


Schema and Reader Response: Reader-centric


Reading Comprehension


The schema based cognitive models of the 70s and the reader response models (Rosenblatt) of the 80s focused more on reader factors--knowledge or interpretation mattered most

Pedagogy for Reader-centric

  • Since the meaning is largely in the reader, we need to go dig it out…

  • Spend a lot of time on

    • Building background knowledge

    • Inferences needed to build a coherent model of meaning

    • Readers’ impressions, expressions, unbridled response

  • Readerly readings

A few clarifications of schema theory…

  • Variation along a continuum of top-down vs bottom-up

    • Kohlers (1967): Reading is only incidentially textual

    • Anderson (1977): specific words/ideas instantiate general schemata: the text is the trigger to our knowledge stores

      • Not completely top down process

Critical literacy models: Context-centric



Reading Comprehension


The sociocultural and critical literacy models of the 90s focused on the central role of context (purpose, situation, discourse community)

Pedagogy for Critical literacy models

  • Since the meaning is largely in the context, we need to go dig it out…

  • Questions that get at the social, political and economic underbelly of the text

    • Whose interests are served by this text?

    • What is the author trying to get us to believe?

    • What features of the text contribute to a particular interpretation, e.g., that money is evil?

CI: Balance Reader and Text: little c for context



Reading Comprehension


In Kintsch’smodel, Reader and Text factors are balanced, and context plays a“background”role--in purpose and motivation.

Pedagogical implications for CI

  • Since the meaning is in this reader text interface, we need to go dig it out…

  • Query the accuracy of the text base.

    • What is going on in this part here where it says…

    • What does it mean when it says…

    • I was confused by this part…

  • Ascertain the situation model.

    • So what is going on here?

    • What do we know that we didn’t know before?


Kintchian Model



Knowledge Base



Text Base


Situation Model




Out in the world

Inside the head

New and different

  • Most important: A new model of the comprehension process

    • Text (what the author left on the page)

    • Text base (the version a reader creates on a veridical reading)

    • Knowledge (what the reader brings from prior experience)

    • Model of meaning for a text

      • Dubbed the Situation Model (mental model)

      • A model that accounts for all the facts and resources available in the current situation

What’s inside the Knowledge box?

  • World knowledge (everyday stuff, including social and cultural norms)

  • Topical knowledge (dogs and canines)

  • Disciplinary knowledge (how history or astronomy works)

  • Linguistic knowledge

    • Phonology

    • Lexical and morphological

    • Syntax

    • Genre

    • Pragmatics (how language works in the world): Discourse, register, academic language, intention

    • Orthography (how print relates to speech)

How does a reader build a text base?

Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Hatchet

“Some of the quills were driven in deeper than others and they tore when they came out. He breathed deeply twice, let half of the breath out, and went back to work. Jerk, pause, jerk — and three more times before he lay back in the darkness, done. The pain filled his leg now, and with it came new waves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, he started crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn’t take it. Not the way it was.

“I can’t take it this way, alone with no fire and in the dark, and next time it might be something worse, maybe a bear, and it wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it would be worse. I can’t do this, he thought, again and again. I can’t. Brian pulled himself up until he was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He put his head down on his arms across his knees, with stiffness taking his left leg, and cried until he was cried out.”

Building a Text Base

  • “Some of the quills were driven in (into what? His leg) deeper than others (other what? Quills) and they (the quills that were driven in deeper) tore when they (the deeper-in quills) came out (of his leg).He (Brian) breathed deeply twice, let half the breath out, and went back to work (work on what? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in next sentence). Jerk, pause, jerk (the work is jerking quills out)— and three more times (jerking quills out) he (Brian) lay back in the darkness, done (all the quills jerked out).

  • The pain filled his (Brian’s) leg now, and with it (the pain) came new waves (what were the old waves?) of self-pity. (Brian) Sitting alone in the dark, his (Brian’s)leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him (Brian) again, he (Brian) started crying. It (the whole situation Brian was in) was all too much, just too much, and he (Brian) couldn’t take it(the situation).Not the way it (the situation)was. (What way was the situation? Don’t know yet. Suspense. Expect to find out in the next paragraph.)

  • “I (Brian)can’t take it (the situation) this way (what way? Still don’t know. Suspense), alone with no fire and in the dark (now we know “this way” means “alone with no fire and in the dark”),and next time it (the next situation) might be something worse(than this situation),maybe a bear, and it(the problem that will define the situation)wouldn’t be just quills in the leg, it (the problem)would be worse (than quills in the leg).

  • I (Brian)can’t do this (deal with the problem situation), he (Brian) thought, again and again. I (Brian) can’t “do this (deal with the problem situation).” Brian pulled himself (Brian)up until he (Brian) was sitting upright back in the corner of the cave. He (Brian)put his (Brian’s) head down on his (Brian’s) arms across his (Brian’s) knees, with stiffness taking his (Brian’s) left leg, and cried until he (Brian)was cried out.”

Some key moves in building a text base…

  • Processing words and attaching meaning to them

  • Using syntax to solidify key relations among ideas

    • Microstructure

    • Macrostructure

  • Resolving reference--things that stand for other things (mainly pronouns and nouns)

  • Using logical connectives (before, after, because, so, then, when, while, but) to figure out the relations among ideas

  • Inferring omitted connectives (e.g., figuring out that A is the cause of B) based on PK about the world

  • Posing questions for short term resolution

  • Identifying ambiguities for later resolution (wait and see)

So how about building a situation model?

  • The knowledge-comprehension relationship

  • We use our knowledge to build a situation model for a text

  • The information in the situation model is now available to become part of our long term memory and store of knowledge

  • To assist in processing the next bit.

Situation Model for Hatchet Passage

  • Integrate

    • Text base

    • Knowledge Base

  • We have the text base

  • What might be in the knowledge for a 10-year-old?

The blurb from the jacket of Hatchet gives a preview of the book:

Thirteen-year old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker and the hatchet his mother has given him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parents’ divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

What a reader knows by Chapter 8

Brian is stranded in the Canadian wilderness with a hatchet and his wits as his only tools for survival. He already has overcome several obstacles, including surviving the plane crash, building a small shelter and finding food.

In chapter eight, Brian awakens in the night to realize that there is an animal in his shelter. He throws his hatchet at the animal but misses. The hatchet makes sparks when it hits the wall of the cave. Brian then feels a pain in his leg. He sees the creature scuttle out of his shelter. Brian figures out that the animal was a porcupine because there are quills in his leg.

Some prior knowledge that a 5th grader might bring

  • What sparks look like

  • How it feels to be scared by an animal

  • How big porcupines are

  • To survive you have to have food, water and shelter

  • To survive you have to be strong

An actual retelling of key parts of chapter 8 from Sam, a 5th grade reader

  • The same text for which we just examined the text base…

Why is this model of iteratively constructing and integrating so important?

  • The mental (situation) model is central to knowledge construction

  • Building a mental model transforms new ideas and information into a form that can be added to memory, where they endure as knowledge that can be retrieved in the future. Unless readers build a mental model, the information they derive from the text is not likely to connect to their stored knowledge. The new information will be forgotten or lost.

  • Key role of knowledge:

    • Knowledge involved in even the most literal of processing

    • Knowledge begets comprehension begets knowledge…

    • Knowledge is available immediately: dynamic store…

How can we help students build solid text bases and rich and accurate situation models?

  • Do a good job of teaching subject matter in social studies, science, mathematics, and literature

  • Don’t let reading remain our curricular bully!

How can we help students build rich and accurate mental models?

  • Assist students in selecting appropriate knowledge frameworks to guide their construction process

  • Do everything possible to build as many connections as possible with other texts, experiences, knowledge domains

    • Do lots of “what does this remind you of?”

    • What is this like? How is it different from what it’s like?

How can we help students build rich and accurate mental models?

  • A different model of guided reading

  • Stop every once in a while and give the kids a chance to construct/revise their current mental model

    • Research study:

      • interview protocol proved to be very “instructive”

Begin with very general probes before getting specific

  • So what’s going on in this part?

  • What do we know now that we didn’t know before?

  • What’s new?

  • What was the author trying to get us to understand here?

  • Well!…say something!

Invite and support clarifications of tricky parts

  • Anyone want to share something that was tricky or confusing?

  • How about this part here…where it says…?

  • I got confused by… What do you think about this part? What was the author trying to get us to think.

Follow up general probes and invitations for clarification with specific probes.

  • So which of these things happened first? Why is that important?

  • In this paragraph, they use a lot of pronouns. Let’s check out our understanding of who or what they refer to..

  • Typical discussion questions are OK too--just to make sure are the tricky parts get clarified.

    • View questions as a scaffold for understanding the big picture not as a quiz.

The general model for guided reading

  • A set for “stock-taking”

  • A set for using facts (details) in the service of concepts (main ideas)

  • More specific probes to scaffold the construction of the text base and situation model

  • Results in a pretty good summary of the selection--story, article, lab report, mathematical representation, etc.

Developing Text Bases and Mental Models

  • Ensure that students have a full “tool” box (set of strategies) to haul out when things don’t just happen automatically…for

    • Connecting the known to the new

    • Connecting texts and parts of texts

    • Working toward coherence among potentially unconnected ideas

    • Recognizing and resolving ambiguities.


  • For a model of meaning to survive, it must

    • Be consistent with the current text base (square with the “facts of the case” thus far revealed)

    • Be consistent with the current knowledge base (square with what a reader knows to be true about the world)

The Vulnerabilities

  • Clumsiness with motivation

    • A nod to interest and an assumption that readers are motivated

  • Gloss over critical reading

    • Assumes a liberal humanist “critical thinking” perspective, not a post-modern critical theoretical stance


Kintchian Model



Knowledge Base

Reader as Text User/Analyst/Critic



Text Base


Situation Model


Reader as Decoder


Reader as Meaning Maker


Out in the world

Inside the head

Prevailing research-based wisdom about comprehension…

  • Kintsch’s Construction-Integration Model

  • Rand Report on Comprehension

Kintsch, W. (1998). Comprehension: A paradigm for cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.


Kintsch’s Construction-Integration Model

  • As you read, for each unit, you

    • Construct a Textbase

    • Integrate the Text and Knowledge Base to create a Situation Model

    • Incorporate information from the Situation Model back into your knowledge base

    • Use your knowledge to nudge the world a bit.

    • Start all over again with the next bit of reading

    • C-I-C-I, anon anon




My claim in 2010: The vision of comprehension in the TEKS or CCSS maps onto important theoretical, assessment, and curricular research

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress

  • Four Resources Model of Freebody and Luke

  • Kintsch’s Construction-Integration Model

Key Ideas and Details

  • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

    Craft and Structure

  • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

  • Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.*

  • Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

  • Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Common Core

  • Standards 1-3: Key ideas and details

  • Standards 4-6: Craft and structure

  • Standards 7-9: Integration of knowledge and ideas


  • Students analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about XXX (insert type of text) and provide evidence from text to support their understanding.

    • ANALYZE (unpack the text base)

    • MAKE INFERENCES (build a situation model)

    • DRAW CONCLUSIONS (situate in the larger scheme of things—compare, evaluate, critique, use)

    • MAKE ARGUMENTS (use evidence to support all of the above)


  • Locate and Recall

  • Interpret and Integrate

  • Critique and Evaluate



  • Key ideas and details

  • Craft and structure

  • Integration of knowledge and ideas

  • Locate and Recall

  • Interpret and Integrate

  • Critique and Evaluate


  • Locate and Recall

  • Interpret and Integrate

  • Critique and Evaluate




Freebody and Luke’s 4 Resources

  • Reader as Decoder: Get the message:

  • Reader as Meaning Maker: Integrate with knowledge:

  • Reader as Text Analyst: What’s the real message and how is it crafted

  • Reader as Text Critic: What’s the subtext? The hidden (or not so hidden) agenda?




Consistent with Cognitive Views of Reading

Key Ideas and Details

Locate and Recall

What the text says




Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Integrate and Interpret

Meaning Maker

What the text means

Craft and Structure


What the text does

Critique and Evaluate


For those who want to see everything at once…

  • Pearson

  • Says

  • Means

  • Does

These consistencies provide…

  • Credibility

  • Stretch

  • Research “patina”

I was ready to go on the road to sell these standards to anyone who would listen

And now… for something completely different

Why Texas will not be immune from these pressures

  • Publishers will produce special materials for Texas

  • But they will bear a strong family resemblance to what they develop elsewhere

  • Close Reading and Text-based questions are everywhere

Text dependency of questions

  • Regarding the nature of texts: “A significant percentage of tasks and questions are text dependent…Rigorous text-dependent questions require students to demonstrate that they not only can follow the details of what is explicitly stated but also are able to make valid claims that square with all the evidence in the text. Text-dependent questions do not require information or evidence from outside the text or texts; they establish what follows and what does not follow from the text itself.” (page 6)

Stay close to the text

  • Staying close to the text. “Materials make the text the focus of instruction by avoiding features that distract from the text. Teachers’ guides or students’ editions of curriculum materials should highlight the reading selections…Given the focus of the Common Core State Standards, publishers should be extremely sparing in offering activities that are not text based.”

My concern

  • We will operationally define text dependent as literal, factual questions

  • Forgetting that LOTS of other questions/tasks are also text-reliant

  • Compare

    • What were two reasons pioneers moved west?

    • What does the author believe about the causes of westward expansion in the United States?

    • How valid is the claim that author X writes from an ideology of manifest destiny?


  • Fundamental misunderstanding about reading theory:

    • Every action—critical, inferential, or literal—requires the use of prior knowledge to carry it out…




I wonder why Coleman and Pimentel are so down on prior knowledge?

Text before all else

“The Common Core State Standards call for students to demonstrate a careful understanding of what they read beforeengaging their opinions, appraisals, or interpretations. Aligned materials should therefore require students to demonstrate that they have followed the details and logic of an author’s argument beforethey are asked to evaluate the thesis or compare the thesis to others.” (page 9)

My concern

  • We will view literal comprehension as a prerequisite to inferential or critical comprehension.

  • Compare

    • We could read text X. Then read text Y. Then compare them on Z.

    • Or just ask them to conduct a comparative reading of X and Y on Z.

  • Sometimes the comparison or critique question better rationalizes the close reading

Close reading

  • The Common Core State Standards place a high priority on the close, sustained reading of complex text, beginning with Reading Standard 1. Such reading emphasizes the particular over the general and strives to focus on what lies within the four corners of the text.

My concern

  • Lots of things lie within the four corners of the text—some general and some specific. Writers use both all the time.

    • How long is something in the text? For the page, the folio, the chapter, the book?

    • Is there a point, say when you are on page 10, at which you can’t tell the difference between what you knew before you set eyes on the text and what you learned as you were reading page 3 of the text?

  • The text drags prior knowledge along even if you don’t want it to.

    • Schema Theory Tenet: Words INSTANTIATE schemata

      • Business had been slow since the oil crisis…

    • The text cries out for a schema to attach itself to.

    • Ideas that don’t connect don’t last long enough to allow learning (assimilation or accommodation) to occur

      • They drop out of memory pretty fast

      • In one eye and out the other!

Yet another role for knowledge: Monitoring

  • How do we know that our understanding is good enough?

  • We use two standards…

    • Does it square with the textbase I have built thus far in today’s reading?

      • The last clause, sentence, paragraph, page, and more…

    • Does it square with what I know to be true about the world?

So what about Prior Knowledge

  • Why has it taken a beating in the Publishers’ Criteria

  • One thought: Too much Indulgence at the trough of prior knowledge

    • Too much Know, not enough Want to Learn and Learn

    • Too much picture walk

    • Too much story swapping about our experiences with roadrunners before reading…

  • Let’s right the wrongs

  • Need a mid course correction not a pendulum swing

    • Knowledge in proper perspective?

    • Balanced view of knowledge?

    • Knowledge in the service of understanding

But asking kids to hold their prior knowledge at bay…

  • Is like

  • Asking dogs not to bark or

  • Leaves not to fall.

  • It’s in the nature of things

  • Dogs bark.

  • Leaves fall.

  • Readers use their prior knowledge to render text sensible and figure out what to retain for later.

So what’s a body to do?

  • Embrace the construct of close reading

    • But make sure that it applies to several purposes for reading

      • Reading to get the flow of ideas in the piece.

      • Reading to enhance our knowledge base!!!!

      • Reading to compare (with another text or body of experience or knowledge

      • Reading to critique

        • how good is the argument or the craft or

        • what is his bias/slant/perspective)

      • All of these approaches interrogate the text as an evidentiary base.

  • Embrace the virtuous cycle

    • Knowledge begets text comprehension begets knowledge…

This more comprehensive view of close reading is actually more consistent with historical precedents of close reading from the 1920s through the 1960s.

More a body can do…

  • For the CCSS, Stay closer to the standards than to the interpretations of the standards we have seen thus far.

  • For TEKS and CCRS, Keep on keeping on…

    • The model you have works just fine for balancing Text, Task, and Reader variables

  • A BIG TEXAS advantage is the way that you have sequenced the comprehension skills across grade levels

    • RECURRING cognitive moves instantiated in text that systematically increases in

      • Linguistic complexity AND

      • Conceptual complexity

  • Enact a full model of close reading

    • Four Resources works for me

    • Just make sure to encompass literal, interpretive, and critical reading tasks

My sure fire Close Reading Strategy

  • What do you think?

  • What makes you think so?

  • All about warranting claims about what the text says, means, or does...

  • From Mary Uboldi at Healdsburg High School

Use Literacy Tools to Enhance the Development of Disciplinary Knowledge and Reasoning

  • Two views of integration

    • Integrated Language Arts

    • Integration between ELA and disciplines

  • The CCSS are better on the interdisciplinary than on the ELA integration

  • Corresponds to the actual uses to which reading and writing are put.

  • Reading, writing, and language always serve specific purposes

    • Reading and writing, not generically,

    • But about something in particular

The something in particular

  • What reading, writing and language look like in a domain

  • The information for a particular topic or unit or chapter

  • The information in a particular text

Reading and writing are better when they are tools not goals

  • If we don’t realign the current curricular imbalances, science and social studies may suffer…

  • but ultimately reading and writing will suffer

  • reading and writing are not about reading and writing in general

  • they are about reading and writing particular texts that are grounded in particular experiences

  • they both depend upon the existence, the acquisition and the utilization of knowledge (note the comprehension revolution!)

  • not knowledge in general but knowledge of particular disciplines, domains of inquiry, topics, patterns, concepts, and facts

  • In short, the very stuff of subject matter curriculum!

NY Times, Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Our current view of curriculum

Social Studies

Language Arts



A model I like: Tools by Disciplines

Academic Disciplines………..

Language Tools

Early: Tools dominate

Academic Disciplines………..

Language Tools

Later: Disciplines dominate

Academic Disciplines………..

Language Tools

Weaving is even a better metaphor than a matrix






Social studies






Social Studies



Integration is tough…What happens when you try to integrate reading and math?

  • The evolution of mathematics story problems during the last 40 years.


  • A peasant sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price. What is his profit?

1970's (New Math)

  • A farmer exchanges a set P of potatoes with a set M of money.

  • The cardinality of the set M is equal to $10 and each element of M is worth $1. Draw 10 big dots representing the elements of M.

  • The set C of production costs is comprised of 2 big dots less than the set M.

  • Represent C as a subset of M and give the answer to the question: What is the cardinality of the set of profits? (Draw everything in red).


  • A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8 and his profit is $2. Underline the word "potatoes" and discuss with your classmates.


  • A kapitalistpiggundjustleeakires $2 on a sak of patatos. Analiz this tekst and sertch for erors in speling, contens, grandmar and ponctuassion, and than ekspress your vioosregardeng this metid of getingritch.

    Author unknown


  • Dan was a man.

  • Dan had a sack.

  • The sack was tan.

  • The sack had spuds

  • The spuds cost 8.

  • Dan got 10 for the tan sack of spuds.

  • How much can Dan the man have?

Shared Responsibility for Language and Literacy Development

  • English and Subject Matter

  • Rand writing are always situated in a topic and a purpose.

  • Knowledge fuels comprehension and writing.

  • Reading and writing, along with experience and instruction, fuel knowledge.

  • Reading and writing and language work better when they are “tools” for the acquisition of

    • Knowledge

    • Insight

    • Joy

Influential Piece for me…

Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents: Rethinking Content-Area Literacy Instruction. Timothy and Cynthia Shanahan, Harvard Ed Review, 2008, 78 (1).

Why sharing now?

  • The gap for college and workplace readiness

  • The increasing demands of an informational society

  • Finally addressing a problem that has always been there

  • Increasing awareness among disciplinary scholars that they cannot cede disciplinary literacy to the English curriculum

    • April 23, 2010 edition of Science.

Just a word about text complexity

How can we scaffold the reading of complex texts?

  • Read it for them? See IRA statement.

  • Gradually increase the demand in a program designed to up the ante when kids appear ready for it. Reading Plus or Oases

  • Reframe the problem:

    • not text complexity

    • but text access:

    • Answer: scaffolds:

IRA Statement

  • K-1: Read alouds

  • Beyond the beginning reading levels, the CCSS guidelines on text complexity encourage teachers to engage students in reading at least some texts they are likely to struggle with in terms of fluency and reading comprehension. This represents a major shift in instructional approach.

  • To ensure that the interactions with such texts lead to maximum student learning, teachers must provide significantly greater and more skillful instructional scaffolding

    • employing rereading, explanation, encouragement, and other supports within lessons.

  • To accomplish this shift successfully, teachers must have

    • access to appropriate instructional resources and

    • professional learning opportunities that support them in providing such scaffolding.

Scaffolds to cope with complexity

  • Discussion: Collaborative reasoning and problem solving.

    • This is where all we know about collaboration and social learning come into play

  • Vocabulary: Before, During, After

    • Inferring word meanings from context,

    • clarifying ambiguous or unknown words,

    • semantic mapping and any and all categorization activities

Scaffolds to cope with complexity

  • Strategy Instruction

    • Strategies are the tools we invoke when our knowledge won’t do the comprehension for us.

    • They compensate for a lack of knowledge

    • Think about the TEKS comprehension standards as if they could be enacted in either an

      • Automatic mode

      • Strategic mode

    • Big issue: teach the standards strategically

  • Collaborative synthesis activities

    • Summarizing activities

    • Text maps

    • KWL charts

Resources I trust…

  • Lucy Calkins. Pathways to the Common Core, Heinemann

  • Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp

    • Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading, IRA

    • Teaching Students to Read Like a Detective, Solution Tree

  • IRA’s website

  • S. Neuman and L. Gambrell (Eds.), Qualityreading instruction in the age of Common Core State Standards. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • L. Morrow, T. Shanahan, & K. K. Wixson (Eds.), Teaching with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts:  What Educators Need to Know,Grades PreK-2.  New York, NY:  Guilford Press.


  • Watch for work from the Literacy Design Collaborative work on discipline-based integrated ELA modules, 6-12.

Resources that I’d sift through with a careful, critical lens to find a few gems…

  • Engage NY (too much narrow close reading)

  • Edmodo NY (too much narrow close reading)

  • ASCD (like most, not all, of what I have seen)


Hopes for standards…

  • I’m hangin’ in there for the near term.

  • They, both the CCSS and the combination of TEKS and CCRS are still the best games in town

  • They are moving in the right direction in terms of reading theory and research—deeper learning.

  • Hoping that CCSS and CCRS prove to be living documents

    • Regularly revised with advances in

      • our knowledge of reading

      • research on their “consequences”

So, can the romance between scholarship and standards survive?

  • Fleeting infatuation or long-term commitment?

  • Depends on two kinds of leadership

    • Leadership among the founders and authors of the standards to respond to feedback from the field

    • Leadership among those of us who implement the standards to

      • Speak truth to power

      • Make and share improvements

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